10.07.2007

Religious Tolerance in India

Click on the photo to enlarge.

The traditional world: Chidambaram

An ancient temple, seeped in its old orthodox ways of living, is precise with its timings of ritual to Lord Nataraja. This is Chidambaram Nataraja temple, an ancient temple that seems to show far more openness to religious tolerance than our political counterparts.

And within this temple a rare unbelievable event happens almost every day, one that is part of living in this temple city but one that you wouldn't find anywhere else in the world. Two women burkha clad, hold their slippers in their hands and walk through this temple. It seems like they take this route as their regular short cut through the temple courtyard.

They walk on with no hesitation, with freedom in their minds and no fear that they will be stopped. We looked at them and smiled, as I captured the moment, a moment that the world needs to see today, a truth that echoes in our little towns that there is communal brotherhood.
It was a glitter of respect and mutual honour as a safron clad man walked by with the same peace as did women clad in black covering thier identity to the world at large.

The Corporate World: Iftar party at Chennai

It's the month of Ramzan and a group of muslims got together to surprize a largely hindu audience of an IT company targetted to meeting its goals. In the middle of all the hussle and crunching timelines, they decided to treat an audience of 150.


It was an event in the history of corporate living where everyone is trying to get the better of the other and only position and money largely does the talking. It was an event conducted at work, involving people from all other faiths instead of leaving for home early and keeping the festivities limited to their community.


Everyone participated as the group served the food, catering to vegetarians and non vegetarians at the same time. They gave out the delicious dishes that they had gotten together and sponsored for the entire division.
They helped in serving bringing in a feeling of brotherhood, making sure everyone irrespective of position got a good mouthful. They fed a crowd of 150 before they broke their own fast.

Here is a living truth that we as a society are all Indians irrespective of religious or language barriers.
These are small things in a big world both ancient or modern. The feeling of brotherhood is best brought out when people from different faiths come together and harmony rules the land. It is in the hearts of the common folk.

If you want to know what religious tolerance is, learn it from an Indian.

Click on the photo to enlarge.

25 comments:

Yudish Sharma said...

Hi Kavitha,

I second your thoughts when you say tolerance can be learned from an Indian. Well, when we say an Indian I understand it is the common person. He/she is the one who wants to live in harmony with his/her surrounding irrespective of faith, caste, class.

Just that few politicians, religion fundamentalists are responsible for creating rifts in people's mind.

Way to go.....keep doing the good work of creating awareness.

JC Joshi said...

Hi kavitha, Y Sharma, Good!

It was ‘Big B’s’ dad, Shri Harivansh Rai Bachchan who, in his famouse poem ‘Madhushala’ said, “Raha pakad tu ek chala-chal/ Pa jayega madhushala!” That is, like once popular “Every road leads to Rome,” that was applicable to the Roman Empire’s ‘advancement’, the belief that God can be reached following any path - performing actins with firm conviction, as advised in the Gita also, ie, action without expecting fruits therefof, or 'attachement with detachment'…knowing that life is all about illusion or 'Maya! Tolerance and Intolerance are two sides of teh same coin - it is the blank side that is more important!

JC Joshi said...

From one’s experience one could perhaps observe 'life of an individual human being' - wherever one might find oneself on earth after one’s (natural/ artificial) birth - as the outcome of actions necessarily performed by one due to ‘natural forces’, after apparently considering the various thoughts that might pop up into one’s head or as per general guidance laid down by the 'human society' concerned, ie, after duly weighing their pros and cons, and the resultant reactions thereof - immediately or over some period of time, maybe in parts…

However, each individual apparently has ‘a mind of one’s own’ for analysis and deciding what is ‘right’ or what is ‘wrong’.

The statement, “One man’s meat is another man’s poison”, is the generalized finding to express it in brief… And, someone described ‘helplessness of humans’ (in the drama) as the essence of life in the words with reference to a popular character in recent past ‘who has now become history’, to the effect, “Helplessness thy name is Mahatma Gandhi”…

Perhaps, if one were to attempt going to the 'root' and ask WHY? a rational being could agree with the ancients that ‘time’ is moving to the remoter past and thus showing ‘intensity of imperfection’ ('tolerance' as well as 'intolerance', both in day-to-day life) growing bigger and bigger with passage of time as also larger number of ‘participant models’ in the race to achieve ‘perfection’ by the end of Sat-yuga by Shiva/ Earth, which also is made well known – like the answer to a question in arithmetic given at the end of the book!

Dr.Anil Joshi said...

Kavitha,I entirely agree with you that an average Indian is the icon of religious tolerance! In Ambajogai a town in Mahrashtra Which is famous for the "Ambajogai" temple,I have witnessed Muslim women actually coming for the darshan of the goddess!I was overwhelmed to witness that & was told that it is a routine in that small town!

JC Joshi said...

Hi Anilji,

‘Indian sub-continent’ - within the globe that itself in the words of the ‘wise’ ancients is the true image of the universe/ the Formless Creator - is like a museum that houses specimens reflecting the entire range of 'apparent time'…The ancient most civilization, believably housing in Kashi the abode of Adi Shiva; in Ayodhya the birthplace of ‘Rama’ the Sun (Brahma) as one of the three aspects of ‘Trimurty’; and the third, ‘Krishna’, the representative of Vishnu in ‘a prison in Mathura’…therefore for obvious reasons has a large variety to display in all aspects – if ‘Krishna’ activates the ‘Ajna Chakra’ or the ’Mind’s eye’ as He reportedly provided ‘Divya Chakshu’ or the ‘Divine Eyes’ to Arjuna when he surrendered in Him!

kavitha said...

Hello Anilji,

It is interesting to see that Muslims also have a darshan at the temple. I have had Christian friends(without any exception) who simply refuse to enter the temple, or take arti or prasad and are very shocked when I dont have such hangups.

It is very sad indeed to see their closed attitude.

Regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

As I had said earlier also, Hindu mythological stories communicate that ‘Sanatan Dharma’ isn’t made easily digestible for all animals, headed by MAN, by the one and only Formless Creator…

‘Sanatan Dharma’ isn’t a ‘religion’ in the sense it is understood by an average person today, mainly because of communication losses over billions of years - copying error!

When the wise sages said that ‘surrrender in Him’ was the primary condition, ‘shastang pranam’ or lying prostrate on the floor/ ground in front of a deity was only a symbolic communication. In reality it meant emptying of all the prejudged notions in the head carried till a particular point of time by a ‘seeker’, and allowing ‘Yogiraja Krishna’, as a representative of Vishnu, to then gradually release the entire information locked up within each human form - a ‘Yogi’ - in eight numbers ‘Bandhas’, to reach the head and eventually get ‘enlightened’ like Gautam the Buddha, a prince, who reportedly did over many years after abandoning the comfort of the palace, to act as a ‘role model’ for the majority…

But, his followers, the ‘monks’ are forced, in Myanmar and Leh too, say, to resort to ‘Bandhas’ instead…due to lack of proper communication or the purpose of 'religion'…

JC Joshi said...

I myself had learnt from an ‘English’ novelist that ‘a Hindu prays to the God within the person’ when one says ‘namaste’ to another one with folded hands!

The purpose of ‘religion’ therefore isn’t just the ‘darshan’ or a glimpse of the deity’s idol…and therefore be called blind ‘idol worshippers’, or ‘kafir’, by the ‘west’, ruled by Satan, a misnomer of planet Saturn, the ‘sudershan-chakradhari Vishnu’ of ‘Hindus’, or the planet with beautiful rings! Represented my mischievous Krishna the neelamber...

An Urdu ‘shair’ that is poet beautifully communicated the ’truth’ in one of the lines in a ghazal, “…But humko kahein kafir/ Allah ki marzi hai." That is “…idols call us idol-worshippers/ As willed by God!”

JC Joshi said...

“A man is known by the company he keeps".

But, an average person doesn’t know - because of ‘Maya’ that is illusion - that it is God in formless state, or energy form, who gives everyone company without one’s knowledge!

Those who realized the’truth’ irespective of the 'time' reportedly exclaimed, “SHIVOHAM!” that is "I am Him!" (The shortest 'mantra' for the 'wise'!)

JC Joshi said...

From a ‘scientific’ point of view, human behaviour is believed to be governed by 'genes’. From this point of view also, it is believed to be a historical fact that the majority of ‘Muslims’ in India today are basically the progeny of those ‘Hindus’ who had got converted either because of pressure or for selfish interest during the Moghul period…One of my Muslim colleagues had also told me that his predecessors were ‘Brahmins’!

JC Joshi said...

Perhaps as part of the 'design', it is the training imparted to the child through the elders when it is being brought up which is apparently responsible for ‘Maya’.

Life apparently is a phenomenon like attempting to judge the content of, say, a bag using only the physical senses based on its exterior appearance...

As its reflection, ‘I’ saw my wife play such a game with her friends when they sometimes got together and where different items, spices etc - normally available in all kitchens in ‘Indian homes’ - were kept in small bags that carried numbers from 1 to 10, or so, and each lady was allowed to touch or smell etc, but not see, and write down what they believed was contained within each bag...

The lady whose guess was closest to the correct answer received some prize from the hostess who didn't particpate in the game – obviously she alone knew the correct answer because she had originally packed the items!

Yudish Sharma said...

Joshi Uncle,

I completely agree when you say tolerance can also be in genes. One can be forced to follow certain religion but the basic human nature that has been transmitted over generations cannot be dismissed and it shows up in the person irrespective of what religion they later on get to follow.

However, another aspect is about the Christian friends that Kavitha mentions. My belief is all the Christian living in India have been converts during the British ‘Raj and often have Hindu names as well. However, the way some behave as if it’s a curse to participate or celebrate other religions.

I don’t understand what went wrong with their genes!!!!!

JC Joshi said...

Hi Yudish, When one is considering ‘Hindu Mythology’, perhaps what a ‘seeker’ needs is consciousness of the Formless ‘Creator of the physical univese’ as a ‘Supreme’ being’, a ‘perfect Divine Person’ who has some interest of His Own in reviewing His (maybe even imaginary or illusory) past. Or the variety of His stories in innumerable forms (say like as its reflection in a Hindi film, ‘Sanjiva Kumar’ played nine different roles that besides innumerable spectators, duly edited, was seen by the actor himself too) that cover a range from zero to infinity, say like a ‘Tangent theta’ curve that covers the entire 360 degrees of space, displayed in four quadrants of 90 degrees each…

The ‘characters’ that Kavitha cited are also some typical ‘role models’ in the hierarchical representation in the format of the script as one of the ‘truths’ being copied in the apparent ‘present’, which in reality depicts the remote past of the Creator - as ‘time’ apparently nears the beginning of evolution or start of ‘churning by Krishna’ in different forms when poison was faced by all those who were involved in the ‘material development’, which some characters appear to be advocating – but needed first ‘Neelkantha Shiva’/ 'Neelamber Krishna' to consume the ‘halahal’! Krishna believably evolved by the end of Sat-yuga to attain hte supreme form of Shiva/ Earth!

JC Joshi said...

Thus, in short, every ‘soul’ at all times gets to see the total scenario representing the ‘perfect’ or immortal earth, the ‘most beautiful Heavenly Body’ in our galaxy/ universe while, ‘imprisoned within imperfect human form’, one mightn’t ever realize it – acting like a ‘non-living object’ that one believes the prison walls to be! Do you recall the saying, “Even walls have ears?”

JC Joshi said...

The ancient ‘Hindus’ who appear to have given highest pedestal to ‘Indu’ the moon, a believably non-living satellite of a non-living or inert earth - both made up of soils and rocks etc - were either lunatics or ‘highly intelligent’ individuals...

They believed man to be made up from the essences of Heavenly Bodies that, although independently reflected different properties, were obliged to unite within the animal form to act as a single unit - so also in the composite earth which acts as their abode as long as they are sustained by it, with Moon acting as 'the decision-maker' as its essence is also believed to be housed in human head at ‘Sahasrara Bandha’…

In the ‘present day History of India’, ‘Mahatma Gandhi’ is being cited as the sole cause of ‘Bandhas’ or ‘hartals’ and so on - organized by ‘We The People’ or the ‘ruling party’ concerned itself - that apparently ‘apply brakes on material development’ even in ‘Independent India’!

A glance at the Gita by 'born Hindus' would perhaps have resulted in liberation of the 'Mahatma' from the particular allegation, for ‘Krishna’ the Yogiraja - a representative of Vishnu the Formless Nadbindu and who eventually evolved as Shiva the Yogeshwar - is indicated as the ‘King of Yogis’ who apparently plays the roles of both, ‘Gaja’ the powerful forest ‘specialist’ brawny cum brainy animal, Elephant, and ‘Graha’ the powerful all-rounder amphibious animal Crocodile that is capable of locking or applying ‘bandha’ on the elephant with its powerful jaws! Thus, Krishna alone was realized as the holder of the ‘keys to all bandhas’!

In view of the above, ‘wise’ Hindus in the Gita advised ‘surrender’ in Him to achieve ‘Moksha’ or ‘liberation’, a reflection of which was ‘India’ achieving ‘political independence from the British Colonial rule’…

In a ‘lighter vein’, an ‘atheist’ could perhaps be realized as the one who is playing the role of a character whose locks (because of inherent characteristic property of all ‘material’) have got rusted beyond repair although Krishna’s keys remain rust-proof, His having reached ‘perfection’ as He as Bhootnath now reviews His Past!

dev said...

Hi Kavitha
That was a very nice writing about the Iftar celebrations and religious tolerance.Makes you feel proud to be an Indian.

Prema

JC Joshi said...

Premaji & Kavithaji, Yes it is a matter of pride and perhaps a bit of ‘good luck’ also that ‘We’ are born in ‘India’ the land where Shiva/ Krishna/ Rama and so many other ‘Tapasvis’/ ‘Yogis’ - such as Bhagirath, who is famous for his valiant efforts to make ‘Mother Ganga’ to descend from Moon and also Lord Shiva to agree to receive Her on His head and follow him thereafter in the eastern direction for the revival of 60,000 sons of King Sagar turned into ashes earlier - who too appeared on the stage before us to play their heroic roles, even though ‘I’ might have only been given the role of a ‘spectator’/ a curtain-puller!

‘I’ am, however, supposed also to ‘enjoy’, in the same breath the ‘religious intolerance’ (for example, as witnessed in ‘Independent India’; ‘during partition’; ‘Hindu-Sikh riots of 1984’; Babri Masjid demolition in 1992 and consequential 1993 Mumbai blasts; Godhra and Ahmedabad, Gujarat, riots in 2002; and so on, the progressive signs of disintegrations 'today' in the once relatively better knit Indian community displayed when we had a common goal – that of ‘getting rid of British imperialism’)…

‘I’, personally, wasn’t proud ‘I’ was ‘Indian’ until I surrendered in ‘Krishna’ for Him to make me realize that the Creator, although Formless, is ‘karunanidhi’ the wealth (ocean) of kindness - not only in name but in deed too, as one can realize Him through any ‘medium’ if one has a firm faith!

kavitha said...

Hi Joshi Uncle,

Karunanidhi is anything but an ocean of kindness and beauty. Its strange people dont quite live up to their names and try to preach Gandhigiri to the world just because the whole controversy fell on the fated day of Gandhi Jayanti!

There is indeed a lot of flux in this country related to all spheres and as i see the news every day i realized much as all the country's problems are aired on TV not too many got a logical conclusion. They all just die as news items only to be woken up another day!

Makes me wonder whether the complaisance of the people is going to the next level, where we develop thick skin and dont want to oppose the very order that is corrupting our minds.

I mean where are we all headed? Which race are we in? To accumulate bucks such that we will stop only when we are so rich that we cant even buy a Ferrari even if we can afford it! Why because we have come to the next threshold of not being able to display the same wealth? And then what? Get hit by the redundancy of life, of money? Of saying "What was the whole point of this rat race???"

Except the Ambanis of course...

It is such a strange world... never ending wheel of living in Maya, thinking we are doing the right thing... What really is the purpose of living???

Regds
Kavitha

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha, the scenario in ‘India’ must have been similar at all times, that is, disparity in all aspects in the outwardly appearances must have existed at all times and all places, like its varying landscape from one region to another, but awareness of disparity was relatively poorer earlier...

With relatively poorer material development and, therefore, lack of means of transportation that we have today, ‘We’ were like ‘koopmandooks’ that is ‘frogs in the well’ who were contended with whatever ‘material’ was available to us individually. For example, historically, South India remained relatively untouched by the ‘foreign invasions’, and therefore continue to act relatively undisturbed, that is, free to continue with the 'time tested' and thus accepted practices under the given circumstances for long…

The basic thought that generally helped us remain unperturbed, wherever we found ourselves located, was acceptance of existence of ‘God’, belief in ‘life after life’ and contentment with our limited material possessions, accepting that the lack was balanced by the unseen ‘spiritual’ content one had in his account that would be carried forth on to next life, which would be better than this one – if it was found relatively unsatisfactory in the ‘present’!

Thus it is perhaps a matter of 'mental attitude'...at any time...

JC Joshi said...

Now, a thought on the first day of ‘Navratri’ in the month of ‘Aswin’, which is related with Durga that is Parvati, the daughter of the Himalayas and Shiva’s consort…

From my own experience, ‘I’ has seen my attitude change drastically over the last two decades, say. ‘I’ can’t say why, but maybe because of my believably last births, ‘I’ earlier believed God, ‘a perfect being’, to exist in a formless state who was all the time busy taking care of the infinite universe - living or non-living physical or energy forms. And, that it wasn’t my business to poke my nose into His or its working…

Apparently, like a perennial river becomes quieter and deeper before it drains into the sea, circumstances led me to the study of Bhagavad Gita and read therein that the purpose of man was to know God - without form as well as with form…

'I' can now visualize a ‘Divine Person’, who earlier had His Head, or ‘Sahasrara’, in the Himalayas towards the northwest and ‘mooladhar’ towards the east, and who now has gradually twisted His feet towards the Andaman (Hanuman) Island. Such that, now Mumbai (southwest coastal region) could be visualized (with southwest monsoon in mind) as His right palm that scoops out water from the Arabian Sea to wash His Own Body with His left hand in the northeast, in the ‘Shivalik range’ (that extends into Rajasthan and passes through New Delhi also) and beyond in the higher Himalayas…
‘I’ therefore joined Mumbai (in the Atlas) with Lhasa (now in Tibet, China, and famous for spiritually advance Lamas) that coincidentally has the same Longitude as that of Barpeta in Assam, and found the line passes close to Allahabad & Kashi that is Varanasi in the middle! And, from a little bit of knowledge of Assamese, one knows that ‘the word ‘barpeta’ means a person with a ‘big-belly’ that also indicates ‘Lamboder’ or Ganesha, Parvati’s favourite son!

And, it was my wife who had been instrumental in my visit(s) to the Ma Kamakhya's Temple in Gauhati, Assam - in the early eighties when 'I' was literally an 'atheist'!

JC Joshi said...

Kavitha, Once you are prepared to mentally accept life to be a ‘drama’, the plot for which was believably prepared by a super intelligent being that is beyond comprehension of an ‘ordinary man’ - whose only job believably is to act as a witness of the drama - your eye-sight seems to improve. And, you thereafter start seeing apparently otherwise taken for granted phenomena better, or 'in truer light' like the ancient ‘Hindus’ before us appear to have done, and look ‘eccentric’ to the 'present day' younger generation – due to lack of overall knowledge in the words of the ‘wiser’ ancients as 'Krishna' also says so in the Gita…

JC Joshi said...

There are many stories of human characters in the ‘past’ (or maybe 'future' in reality) that all had some unique and remarkable incident at some point of time individually, which apparently ‘acted as turning points’, occurring in their life that changed their attitudes from that time onwards, which was reflected, say, in ‘dacoits’ turning into ‘sages’ – and maybe vice versa too!

In the ‘modern’ Indian History, the incident related with Mahatma Gandhi - when some railway employees in South Africa ejected him, a 'Hindu', with his bags, from a first class compartment - is time and again cited as ‘the turning point’ in the struggle for ‘India’s independence’ from the ‘British rule’…to fall into the ‘Maya’ of ‘self rule’ – in a ‘lighter vein’, like ‘Falling from the sky and getting stuck on a palm tree’, a literal translation of a popular saying in Hindi, or “Falling from the frying-pan in to the fire”!

The above shows, in very brief, how the ancients have perhaps already drawn different 'essences' of the various 'truths' of human life that is 'Maya' or illusion, for us to 'copy and paste'!

JC Joshi said...

If one were to think of an animal, besides man, that is good at ‘copying’, perhaps the image of an ape, that is, a chimpanzee, or a gorilla, or a monkey, would immediately pop-up into one’s head!

And, with reference to ‘Ramsetu’, one would immediately recall the ‘vanar sena’ of King Sugriva, literally the one with the ‘beautiful neck’. And, with the background that the ‘Hindus’ believed neck, or throat, in the human body to house the essence of planet Venus that is “Shukra’. And Shukracharya was believed as the Guru of the ‘demons’ that is the selfish persons, ‘Sugriva’, thus, with ‘su’ as the prefix meaning ‘good’, could indicate him as the king of powerfully built, much more evolved humans in Tretayuga, who weren’t selfish, like King Ravana of ‘golden Lanka’!

And they believably had Hanuman the ‘flying monkey’ as their Commander…who represented planet Mars as per hints given in the mythological stories, such as idol of Hanuman being ritually worshipped on Tuesdays (Mardi in French), and so on…

And, interestingly, with the background of 'Maya' in mind, as I had indicated earlier elsewhere also, the planet Venus has been found by the ‘scientists’ in the ‘present’ also to have ‘fools’ gold’, an iron compound, seen spread over a large region on its surface...

And, iron and blue colour are, perhaps indicated as a misnomer, associated with planet Saturn, (‘satan’ or ‘shaitan’ the mischievous ‘Neelamber Krishna’ - also therefore called ‘natkhat Nandlal’!)!

The 'Hindus' (belonging to Indu the moon) thus appear to have enough material to fool man for all the times to come - till eternity through 'media' pwersons particularly!

goyal said...

good article on tolerance. Shiv Sewa Sangh Barnala

Anonymous said...

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